It's truly sad when unsavoury, extraneous events overshadow a visit to a site. But, hey, these things happen within a flawed society such as ours, do they not? Tell me about it. Quite how we can (rightly) demonise moronic hooligans for rampaging in our city centres when the so called 'higher echelons' (ha!) act like mindless, sub-humans... having a jolly good time hunting a creature to its death for FUN ... is beyond me. It really is. Evil is as evil does, Forrest. It therefore makes my skin crawl to have to share the environs of Coedcae Gaer with such fox hunting degenerates this Christmas Eve afternoon.
There are two saving graces, however. Firstly, the fox doubles back away from the pursuing creatures, paradoxically sat astride beautiful mounts, and casts me a glance as he/she tries to save itself, proceeding to lead them a merry dance in the process. Yeah, a flawed, instinctive executioner when loose in the chicken coop - I doubt if many would blame a farmer blasting the fox with his shotgun on sight - but civilised human beings are supposed to know better than to engage in sheer, retributive blood lust, are we not? QED! I give you the fox hunter! And you can keep 'em the hell away from me upon a public common. Can we stop the cavalry this Christmas? Seems not, my friends. Seems not.
With apologies for the above.... the second saving grace is the unexpected quality of the hillfort of Coedcae Gaer. A little to the north-east of the great urban sprawl that is Bridgend, it's taken me years to find this, so my thanks to the two TMA'ers to proceed me here. The setting is fine, a typical South Walian coastal juxtaposition of industry and sweeping, green hillside, the latter prevalent to the north where the Nant Ciwc has carved the deep valley of Cwm Rhydymilwyr. Phalanxes of wind turbines dominate the summit of Mynydd Maendy to the north-east, the ridge, according to the map, also boasting a 'tumulus'. Another, smaller 'enclosure' sits above Hoel-y-Cyw some way to the west. Far to the south, the Glamorgan coastline is crowned by a myriad promontory 'cliff forts'. Clearly there was a lot going on in ancient times...
So much for the location. The earthworks are pretty good, too. No, they're better than that, the univallate defences rising to an impressive 3m in places, a counterscarp duly emphasising the ditch. Unfortunately a double barbed-wire fence impedes access, and, seeing as the farmer is on site (at least I think it's the farmer, maybe not), I'm forced to have a conversation. Needless to say he's not aware this is a 'hillfort'. But then perhaps that is not so surprising....
After the disappointment of my visit to the Cefn Cross stones it was nice to finish the day on a high!
Directions: From the B4280 take the road to the village of Brynna and then the minor road north towards Rhiwceiliog. From here a very minor road north across the common. Just past the cattle grid is a place to park on the left next to a yellow grit bin – opposite Tyr Mynydd house. Walk along the track which runs up behind the house and then uphill through the ferns towards the Hillfort.
It is a 10 minute walk to the site up a fairly steep 'path'. Although this is common land so access is not a problem the Hillfort itself is completely fenced off. However, if you are the sort that doesn't mind hopping over barbed wire fences access is easy enough.
I was pleasantly surprised by how well preserved this site is. The single bank goes all the way around although it varies in height from nothing up to 2 metres. The outside ditch is also well preserved. A hedgerow cuts the site in half although to looks like it is in the process of being removed – which seems a shame to me. If it wasn't for the mist and drizzle there would be a cracking view to be had; only spoilt by the large factory of some sort.
All in all well worth a visit although you will need to cross the barbed wire fence to get the most out of your trip.
Very substantial and well preserved example of an earth banked Henge with ditches over a metre deep. Access is easy, just park near the cattle grid and head up the field. It is fenced but just walking around it is enough to get the feel of this site.